Panthers volleyball

Pioneer coach Rod Nies and the Panthers, shown earlier this season, defeated North White on Thursday.

The Pioneer volleyball team swept past a scrappy North White team on Thursday night in Royal Center.

The Class A No. 4 Panthers defeated the Vikings 25-14, 25-18, 25-12.

The Panthers (14-3) once again had a good serving night with 16 aces in the three-set match.

Madison Blickenstaff had six aces to go with 11 kills and a block. Jara Esnal had six aces and also floored nine kills.

Olivia Brooke had a solid all-around match with 27 assists, 11 digs, four kills, two aces and a block. Hailey Cripe had eight kills, eight digs, an ace and a block. Mackenzie Walker posted eight digs, four kills and an ace. Mackenzie Robinson collected 10 digs. Kennedy Corn added a block.

Pioneer coach Rod Nies said his squad was able to come out on top against a typical North White team coached by Teresa McIntire.

“She always has them ready to play against us. They just keep themselves in position and try to sneak in there and at least steal a set or even get an upset,” Nies said. “They don’t do anything fancy. They dig the crap out of the ball, get it back over and hope you have a hitting error. They’re very scrappy.”

Pioneer competes at the Harrison Classic on Saturday, where the Panthers face Benton Central and Lowell in pool play to start off the day.

“It’s always a good tournament,” Nies said.


Kokomo edged Cass 16-25, 25-11, 18-25, 25-13, 19-17 in Walton.

Taylor Rodabaugh had 19 kills, 19 digs and four aces for the Kings (3-13). Jacey Grimm floored 10 kills. Paxtyn Hicks collected 40 assists and 12 digs. Madi Rodabaugh led the defense with 34 digs.

“All around great effort by the entire team,” Cass coach Katie Easter said. “We played great, served tough, passed well, hit aggressive. Kokomo was a great scrappy team. We were up 14-8 and couldn’t finish. Kokomo had a couple of great, earned points and we got timid and played timid.

“Proud of how Madi dug the backcourt and how Leah Willison stepped up from JV to fill in the middle for us. Tough loss, at one point they had me in tears with how great they played. To see the growth from these girls is amazing. I love this team and their effort and fight, once we gain control of this intensity and make it consistent you better watch out. We are hungry, determined and a different team than last year.”


Winamac held off visiting Caston 24-26, 25-23, 25-21, 25-19.

Kyra Estrada served eight points and Layne Oliver served seven for the Comets (6-11, 1-2 HNAC). Estrada also led in passing. Maddi Smith led the team in kills. Rachel Rogers had seven blocks.

“We were able to start out strong and play smart volleyball in the first couple of sets, but then let down some in our intensity and had errors in key moments of the game,” Caston coach Melinda Shultz said. “While we played much better tonight than Tuesday night, we still aren’t putting things together to the level where we can play at our best consistently.”

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